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Carney to be inducted into Canadian Ski Hall of Fame

Whether it’s collecting garbage or developing new recycling techniques, Owen Carney has made a habit of making a difference in whatever he does.

Next month Carney, who owns Carney’s Waste Systems in Squamish, will add another title to his list of community honours when he becomes one of only three people this year to be inducted into the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame.

Carney was selected for his efforts in building courses and leading the infamous Weasel Workers.

The Weasel Workers are now a world-renowned volunteer organization that help build and manage ski race courses, but it all started in Whistler during the mid-1970s when a few diligent parents wanted to help prepare for the coming World Cup races.

Carney joined the Weasel Workers soon after they formed as both his son and daughter took to ski racing.

Carney, now 62, said the highlight of his volunteer career was watching his son, Michael, compete in the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988 while he was the Chief of Course.

"I’d have to say being the Chief of Course in 1988 and him being the top Canadian in 1988, that was pretty cool for both of us to get there together," said Carney.

Bruce Goldsmid, general manager of B.C. Alpine, said Carney and the Weasel Workers continue to set the standard for course work and volunteer administration.

"The more accolades you can give Owen the better because it’s been his leadership and vision that have been able to tie it all together," said Goldsmid.

"Owen’s been the catalyst and the leader because he builds great teams and has got good long term vision."

The Weasel Workers help organize World Cup events every year and are expected to be heavily involved in the 2010 Olympics in Whistler.

"They were involved in the 2002 Olympics, they take a group to the World Cup at Lake Louise annually, they’re planning on going to the World Championships in Italy and they were at the last World Championships in Spain so these guys – aside from just working locally – are pretty well respected internationally for their knowledge and work ethic," said Goldsmid.

"What these guys have been able to do is get people that don’t necessarily have kids in the ski programs, but they have passion for working in a team and just creating the knowledge and experience, to work for them – it’s an incredible group."

Goldsmid said without groups like the Weasel Workers and people like Carney there wouldn’t be the programs and races that B.C. athletes enjoy every season.

"B.C. Alpine has four staff that does admin and four coaches, that’s it, and aside from the head coaches and program directors at clubs this is an entirely volunteer driven organization, so we need people like the Weasels."

Carney said the club camaraderie was a big reason why the Weasels started and have managed to stay together. There are now more than 400 people working with the Weasels every season.

"The World Cups were coming to Whistler and we were involved in Whistler Mountain Ski Club at the time and as we progressed the Weasel Workers continued to do the World Cup stuff, then there were a lot of outsiders that started to get involved," said Carney.

"A lot of the people came up with their kids but when the kids moved on they stayed because the camaraderie is a big part of it.

"Because you’re getting up at 5 a.m. and working all day but we have a good time.

"There’s a lot of people who don’t have kids but they just do it for the adventure.

"We have a lot of fun because we travel around the world together and everybody looks forward to doing it."

Carney will be inducted into the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame on Nov. 13 in Ottawa.